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Red Sky over Cairo

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A lifetime of waiting, stacks of National
Geographic half as tall as me, piled on
every step. A girl with nothing to do but dream.

The yellow-black jackets buzzed, I flowered
as I turned the pages. The relics of Tutankhamun
fascinated: gold, turquoise, lapis and the slaves
in mud-brick houses they live in still.

I longed to be the Pharaoh’s daughter;
I kohled my eyes.

Egypt called to me. Pyramids, deserts baking,
heat mirages, and oases of palms with still blue water.

The twenty-first century’s reality is far different.
Cairo teems with discontent, Mubarak’s campaign
posters hung from each lamppost.
Two weeks before the Arab Spring, I was there.
The only safety found behind the gun-guarded,
razor-wired gates of the upper class, and even then—

A country espousing religious freedom was killing
Coptic Christians in the streets, and bombing churches.
Cairo’s one poster child synagogue stood empty,
except for tourists—dark, decorative, haunting,
full of tales of Christ’s sojourn in Egypt?

The pyramids rose hen-pecked by pollution
through a surreal orange sky. Masked women
walk the male dominated streets. Women
live in fear in or out of the hijab.

The majesty of yesteryear, the pyramid of Giza
squats like a discard in the ashtray of desert.
Vendors and tourist litter the site.
Baksheesh is the only God in Egypt,
baksheesh and the horded water of the Nile.


First Published in here & there magazine
in the UK

Copyright © | Year Posted 2016




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Date: 5/5/2018 12:00:00 PM
haunted poetry..one can time travel thru ancient egypt..great poem
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Date: 9/2/2016 6:36:00 AM
Very deep, the result--in part-- of some exemplary research. The imagery alone sets it apart as first-rate, such as "The pyramids rose hen-pecked by pollution." A brilliant composition, Debbie. Congratulations.
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Date: 8/14/2016 2:06:00 AM
Wow, so well written and so true. I was in Cairo on the 2nd anniversary of the Uprising on 25th January. I can still smell the tear gas in the Metro at the Egyptian Museum. 'Christ's sojourn' and the 'ashtray of the desert'. To the girl with nothing but to dream I say: dream on and write on...
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Date: 7/18/2016 11:18:00 PM
Very evocative work here! I have been to Israel but never to Egypt. I don't understand a couple of the words you used. "kohled" and "Baksheesh" Peace & Love Matthew Anish
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Debbie Guzzi
Date: 7/19/2016 8:30:00 AM
Nice to hear from you Matt! kohle is what the ancients used for eyeliner - baksheesh is money
Date: 6/6/2016 11:32:00 AM
Wow, ashtray of the desert, that is a haunting metaphor. I love the dream come true National Geographic world with reality surpassing the dream. I like this very much. I was in Cairo a few years ago and the teargas in the metro at the Egyptian Museum cast forward the freedom fantasy into the broken dreams.
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Debbie Guzzi
Date: 6/6/2016 3:06:00 PM
Yes, what should be one of the best museums in the world is just another tomb to rob for Egyptians who have little money, few jobs, and almost no control of their own lifes. Only those in the military hierarchy & currently in power in the country have lives that's until they fall out of favor & are jailed or executed.
Date: 5/16/2016 3:05:00 AM
Enjoyed the read, Debbie. Always a pleasure to peruse through your excellent work. All the very best! :) john. 7+
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Date: 5/12/2016 11:28:00 AM
Straight from the heart with a cleanser for the mind. A powerful seven and an absolute wonder.
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Date: 4/30/2016 12:00:00 PM
Description of ones daily experience in poetic expression is a gift to civilization..."The pyramids rose hen-pecked by pollution" seeing beauty as the Japanese (and I) view it "wabi sabi" is a special gift....nice work! jim
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Date: 4/12/2016 6:43:00 AM
Brilliant presentation.I enjoyed...............with love
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Date: 4/6/2016 11:47:00 AM
Sounds like a fascinating trip. I have never been to Egypt only to nearby Israel. What does "kohled" mean and "baksheesh"?. Keep 'em coming! Peace & Love Matthew Anish
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Date: 4/6/2016 3:33:00 AM
Hi Debbie! So glad I stopped by to read this powerful poem this morning! Like you I had dreams of visiting the Egypt that I always imagined, but I kept putting it off, and the present day situation is not helping much. Money will always remain the root of all evil; women there are worse off now, losing rights, not gaining them. ~ Warm regards // paul
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Date: 4/4/2016 4:18:00 AM
A joy to read your wonderful poetry, Debbie. T.J
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Date: 4/2/2016 8:44:00 PM
My first time to read your work. I hope it's not my last. Well done Debbie...
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